This is the day which the Lord hath made; let us rejoice and be glad therein.
„It is the Day of Resurrection, let us be radiant, o ye people “, because the annunciation came for the resurrection of our glorious, holy, ancient and most beloved Ohrid Archbishopric! Just like Christ’s Gospel once brought light to our nation through the Holy Divine Romeic Missionaries, the Equal to the Apostles Slavic Enlighteners Cyril and Methodius, with the blessing of the Holy Patriarch of Constantinople Photius, so were we today enlightened, by the blessing of the new Photius of our time – His Divine All-Holiness, the Archbishop of the New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, with the light of the new and joyful annunciation: our Church is no longer schismatic, but fully restored in the canonical and eucharistic community with the primate Mother Church of Constantinople, and through it with all the Local Orthodox Churches in the world!
With the decision of today’s session of the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, under the chairmanship of His All-Holiness, the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, the decades-long schism imposed on our ancient Ohrid Archbishopric has been removed. This means that the Ecumenical Patriarchate recognized our ecclesiastic Hierarchy, headed by Archbishop Stephen as canonical and valid in the entire orthodox world and established canonical and eucharistic communion with it. The official statement issued by the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, among the other things, is stated as follows:
“The Holy and Sacred Synod convened today, Monday, May 9, 2022, under the chairmanship of His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, and discussed extensively the ecclesiastical matter of Skopje. Having assessed in its final stage the petition of appeal of that Church to the Mother Church, along with the repeated pleas of the State of North Macedonia, it made the following decisions:
- It welcomes into eucharistic communion the Hierarchy, clergy and laity under Archbishop Stefan of this Church, thereby healing the wound of schism and pouring “oil and wine” on the ordeal of our Orthodox brethren in that country. To this end, the appropriate Patriarchal and Synodal Act is issued…
The Ecumenical Patriarchate continues to express interest in the growth, progress and stability of this ecclesiastical entity of Ohrid, just as it has done through the centuries for all the Local Orthodox Churches, as “the inn of love, the source of the piety of all Orthodox Christians” (Metropolitan Paul of Drama)”.
After the several decades-long international isolation and non-recognition of our Church by the Orthodox ecumene, in April 2018 our Holy Synod sent a unanimous plea for appeal to our Mother Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, which is the only one in the Orthodoxy with the historical and canonical rights and privileges to decide upon appeals and give autocephalies. The appeal from our was immediately taken into consideration and according to the public announcement in May this year, the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Mother – Church of all the Orthodox faithful, “decided to take interest in this matter” (i.e. to get engaged in the solving of this canonical issue of our Church) and to take all the necessary steps, according to the guaranteed rights for its historical and canonical responsibility and privileges as a primate Church”. Since then, our state leadership has sent several letters and petitions to the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew to accept this appeal. Today, after all the ecclesiastical and legal elements were reviewed once again, the Holy Patriarch Bartholomew and his Synod accepted the request of our Church, accepting it under its historical and ecclesiological name “Ohrid Archbishopric”.
This decision does not instantly mean granting a Tomos for autocephaly, which officially regulates the final administrative status of our Church, but is an expression of paternal love and care by the Ecumenical Patriarchate and is an announcement that we are no longer in schism with the entire Orthodox Church and our clergy can serve with priests from other Orthodox Churches. Additional negotiations will be needed to determine the final status.
This step of the Patriarch Bartholomew is also a historic event for the Ecumenical Patriarchate because the years-long injustice inflicted on our Church is finally being rectified. The recognition of the canonicality by the Mother Church, the First-throned Ecumenical Patriarchate put an end to the almost seventy years of isolation of the restored Ohrid Archbishopric. The Ecumenical Patriarch, His Holiness Bartholomew, on the other hand, is written in our sacred history as a noble Patriarch – true father of all Orthodox, a worthy successor to his glorious ancestors, St. John Chrysostom, St. Gregory the Theologian, St. Photius the Great and all others!
The good news from the Empress of the cities, from the Eye of the Universe, from the Mother Church in Constantinople, was greeted by our monastic communities with thanksgiving ceremonies in the churches and the joyful ringing of the bells.
Rejoice, Cyril and Methodius, our most holy fathers and teachers!
Rejoice, Saint Clement the glorious one, ye light of Ohrid!
Rejoice, Saint John of Debar, First Saint of the Ohrid throne and always-mentioned founder of the Bigorski Monastery!
Rejoice, famous Ohrid Archbishops: Lav, Theophylact, Constantine, Prochor, Arsenius and everyone else!
Rejoice, Archbishop Dositheus, restorer of our Church!
Rejoice, all spiritual children of our glorious Archbishopric, because we are no longer left alone, but are in communion with the Mother Church, with the Great Church of Christ!
Glory to the Holy, One-Essential, Life-giving and Inseparable Trinity, now and forever and in the centuries of the centuries!